Law School Case Brief
Cefaratti v. Aranow - 321 Conn. 637, 138 A.3d 837 (2016)
To establish the elements of the continuing course of treatment doctrine, a plaintiff is required to prove: (1) that she had an identified medical condition that required ongoing treatment or monitoring; (2) that the defendant provided ongoing treatment or monitoring of that medical condition after the allegedly negligent conduct, or that the plaintiff reasonably could have anticipated that the defendant would do so; and (3) that the plaintiff brought the action within the appropriate statutory period after the date that treatment terminated.
Plaintiff Lisa J. Cefaratti filed a medical malpractice action in Connecticut state court defendants Jonathan Aranow, M.D., the physician who performed a surgery on her, as well as his medical practice and a hospital. Cefaratti alleged that, approximately one year after undergoing a gastric bypass surgical procedure performed by Dr. Aranow, she began experiencing abdominal discomfort and described the sensations to Dr. Aranow. Subsequently, following an unrelated medical examination, the surgical sponge was discovered in Cefaratti's abdomen. At trial, defendants filed motions for summary judgment, contending that the Cefaratti's claims were barred by the three year statute of limitations applicable to medical malpractice claims. Cefaratti opposed the motions, claiming that the statute of limitations was tolled by the continuing course of treatment doctrine. The trial court granted defendants summary judgment. On Cefaratti's appeal, the appellate court concluded that the Cefaratti's morbid obesity was an identified medical condition for purposes of the continuing course of treatment doctrine and that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Dr. Aranow had provided ongoing treatment to Cefaratti for that condition. The appellate curt thus reversed the trial court's judgment in part with respect to Dr. Aranow's liability and the vicarious liability claims against his medical practice and the hospital. Dr. Aranow and his medical practice appealed.
Were defendants entitled to summary judgment on the ground that the continuing course of treatment doctrine did not toll the statute of limitations?
The state supreme court affirmed the appellate court's judgment. The court observed that in determining what constituted an "identifiable medical condition," Cefaratti was required only to present evidence that her symptoms of abdominal discomfort were connected to the retained surgical sponge and that she sought treatment for those symptoms, not that she knew about and sought treatment for the presence of the sponge. The appellate court properly found that there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether: (1) Cefaratti's abdominal discomfort was caused by the presence of the surgical sponge and therefore was an identified medical condition for purposes of the continuing course of treatment doctrine, and; (2) Cefaratti sought continuing treatment for that medical condition.
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